STEAM not STEM

I keep hearing about schools in the United States putting more focus on STEM. Heck, even the current president is on board with this: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FfXA4xRcE-U

STEM, for those of you might not know is defined as this:

STEM is an acronym referring to the academic disciplines of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics.

I've been an undergraduate in Computer Engineering for nearly five years. I've done a total of three internships. I've worked with so many people on more projects than I can count on my hand. And I've developed so much from everything that I've done - no matter how hard it's been. But I can't help but think that this focus and push on just STEM is simply wrong.

But why are we doing this?

People are scared of a broken school system and are trying whole heartily to fix things. Good people are leading these efforts. Good people are thinking that the recession hit hard and those people are afraid that the United States will fall behind and that our children will suffer for it.

But the idea that is so ingrained in many people's minds is wrong because Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics are often treated as separate from the arts. Separate from writing, poetry, drawing, music and expression. But they're not. They're one and the same - venues for human expression and creativity.

Take a look at the creative pipelines of an animation studio - there are so many parallels to what happens in the semi-conductor industry. Animation ideas go through pre-production, production and post-production.

Just look at production cycle of semiconductors! The big concepts are what matters:

Semiconductor Lifecycle

Think about some of these words used in animation: Story Boarding, Layouts, Modeling, Rigging, Editing. Many of the concepts are so similar, and so familiar if you're an engineer... they're just applied differently.

So I'm not trying to say that we shouldn't help to promote learning in STEM. Technology is changing, and we need to update our educational infrastructure to help students prepare for this. But we shouldn't place a whole focus on STEM alone.

STEM needs to turn into STEAM, and we need to make sure that there is an equal emphasis on all of those fields. Art is just as much a fundamental and innovative human endeavor as the STEM fields. They're one and the same, and shouldn't be artificially separated.


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